If I haven’t mentioned it before, Autumn is my favorite season—not only for its beauty, but for its cool nights and windy days, crisp new apples and cider that makes your lips pucker. And when I was a school child, it was the beginning of a New Year. I still have that sense of new beginnings in Autumn. So I invite you to welcome Autumn. Yes, it officially arrived the end of September, but now is its true nature revealed. It’s also the season of holidays.
Today is All Hallow’s Eve, from which we derive Hallowe’en. (The apostrophe indicates we left out the “v” of Even, as in eventide or evening.)
Here in my small city kids can trick-or-treat from 4-5 PM uptown at the businesses. Then at 5:30 small ghosties and ghoulies descend en masse on the neighborhoods known for their generosity in providing treats to keep dentists in business for at least the following year, until the next generous outpouring of sweets.
Around the county there are corn mazes and a few haunted houses. I’m not big on getting lost in a cornfield after dark, nor do I like things jumping out at me and shrieking. An evil laugh lives on in my dreams for weeks.
Obviously Halloween, as observed in the 21st Century in my area, is a total loss for me.
I do like the idea of All Hallow’s Eve, though, a time to reflect on saints who have gone before us, and whose day will be celebrated tomorrow, November 1. Over the years I’ve learned that saints aren’t perfect people. Well, believe me, that was a relief. Pretty hard to live up to the example of perfect people, even if they are dead and gone.
Saints, I was told, are people like you and me. (Benefit of the doubt operates here.) They were folks who followed God’s calling, sometimes were martyred for it (not sure I want to do that one); and believe it or not, most of them weren’t special at the time they lived.
I always thought of Saints (capital S) as those writers of gospels, like Matthew, Mark, Luke, John. But saints (lowercase s) are those who have set an example for me, cared for me. Lovely people.
So I celebrate the saints in my life: People like a woman I knew as Treva, who became a surrogate Mom to several of the young women in a little country church. Or Vira, my mother-in-law, who, having no daughters, accepted me as her true daughter (my own mother having died several years earlier). My Aunt Virginia, another surrogate Mom to her nieces—always had a smile, even when arthritis was so painful that she could barely move. And Hank and Steve, teachers who mentored me (and countless other students) as we desperately searched for our life’s path.
None of them had the word Saint before their name, capital or lowercase. None of them thought of herself/himself as special. But each one was special to me, and for me, and I celebrate them this eve of the day we honor saints.